Lot 86
  • 86

Charles-Antoine Coypel

700,000 - 900,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Charles-Antoine Coypel
  • Roland and the Marriage of Angelique
  • signed and dated upper center on the wall: Charles Coypel / 1733 inscribed lower right: PEINT EN M.DCC.XXXIII. PAR CH. COYPEL QUI LA REMIS EN GRAND LA MESME ANNÉE POUR LE ROY and inscribed on the tree trunk: Angelique engage/ son coeur. / Medor en est Vainqueur /  que medor est heureux! / Angelique a comble ses voeux
  • oil on canvas, unlined


Louis Fagon by 1737;
Sale Du cabinet de M. CH***, Paris, Hôtel de Bullion, 28 January 1788, in lot 42, to Saubert, for 600 French livres;
Marquis de Saint-Marc;
His sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 23 February 1859, lot 3, for 3,600 francs;
Comte de Sazilly, 8 rue Théodule Ribot, Paris;
His sale ("du comte de S***"), Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 5 December 1928, lot 10, 151,000 francs;
To A Pigozzi (or Picozzi), 24 rue Saulnier, Paris;
Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris;
Confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg from the depot of Bedel & Cie., 194, rue de Championnet, Paris, 19 September 1942;
Hermann Göring, acquired 25 November 1942;
Musée du Louvre, exchanged with the above 15 March 1944 (recorded in the Louvre photographic archive as restituted to Baronne Leonino);
Baronne Antoinette Leonino, 6 rue Picot, Paris;
Her sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 18 June 1948, lot 2 for FF600,000;
To Lejeune Madeleine, 9 bd de Clichy;
With J. Seligmann, Paris;
Anonymous sale, Paris, Palais Galliéra, 29 November 1973, lot 12.
Private collection, Milan, from whom acquired by the present owner.


M. Fenaille, État général des tapisseries de la manufacture des Gobelins de 1600 à 1900, Paris 1904, vol. III, p. 326;  
F. Ingersoll-Smouse, "Charles-Antoine Coypel", in La revue de L'art ancien et moderne, vol. XXXVII, March 1920, pp. 285-286;
A. Schnapper, "A propos de deux nouvelles acquisitions, 'Le chef d'oeuvre d'un muet'"in La revue du Louvre, 1968 no 4-5, pp. 255-256;
T. Lefrançois, "L'influence d'Antoine Watteau sur l'oeuvre de Charles Coypel" in Antoine Watteau (694-1721):  le peintre, son temps et sa légende, Paris-Genève 1987, pp. 68 and71;
T. Lefrançois, Charles Coypel, Paris, 1994, pp. 270-271, cat. no. P. 151, reproduced, and pp. 285 and 288.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is in remarkably good condition. The canvas is not lined. The paint layer is stable and although the cracking is visibly raised throughout, there is no sign of any instability to the paint layer. There is an original canvas join running from right to left, about 4 inches from the bottom edge, which is faintly visible on the surface, but even this join has not attracted any loss or restoration. The painting may never have been cleaned and is noticeably dirty, however, if it is carefully cleaned it will be possible to leave an attractive patina remaining on the surface and the cracking that is visible now will most likely not be a visual issue and therefore no structural work will be needed. The frame is certainly old and has not been re-gilded or damaged in any notable way.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Charles-Antoine Coypel was the scion of a distinguished family of painters and enjoyed great success in his own right.  He was admitted to the Académie Royale before he turned twenty and the following year received his first major commission, which was for a series of tapestry designs.  After the death of his father in 1722, he took over his post as painter to Philippe II, Duc d'Orleans and subsequently became the queen's favorite painter.  In 1747, he was appointed Director of the Académie and Premier Peintre du Roi to Louis XV.  Coypel's success was all the more remarkable given that he was competing with Watteau, François Lemoine, Restout, Chardin and Boucher for recognition and commissions. 

Roland and the Marriage of Angélique is the first of a series of four designs for tapestries illustrating scenes from operas by Jean-Baptiste Lully and Philippe Quinault, commissioned by Louis XV for the queen's apartments at Versailles.  It is Coypel's fully realized design, which he then used as the basis for the cartoon sent to the weavers, the famous Manufactures des Gobelins.  In order to fit the queen's apartments, Coypel increased the scale and elongated the composition horizontally.1 He also placed the figures further away from the picture plane.  The inscription along the bottom of the present work clearly dates it and the cartoon, which in now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, to 1733 and links them both to the royal commission.

Roland and the Marriage of Angélique illustrates a turning point in the opera Roland, itself based on Ludovico Ariosto's poem Orlando Furioso of 1516.  It was first performed in Versailles in 1685 and, with its noble theme of the conflict between love and duty, remained popular well into the eighteenth century.  The drama is set against the background of the Christian Emperor Charlemagne's battle with the Saracens.  The hero, Roland, a nephew of Charlemagne, is in love with Angélique, a pagan princess.  She, in turn, loves Médor, a soldier in the Saracen army.   Here Coypel shows the moment in act IV when Roland learns that Angélique has married Médor and run off with him.  Crushed by her betrayal he goes mad with grief, rampaging across Europe and Africa.  He is only brought back to his senses when, in the final act, various heroes of antiquity appear to him in his dreams and convince him to renounce his love for Angélique and return to his duty as a Christian soldier.

Coypel shows Roland in his glittering armor collapsed in despair at learning of Angélique's marriage.  Above him and to the right, spectators point out the inscriptions on the tree that record the romance, while through the archway at the left, the villagers celebrate a local wedding.  The carefree elegance of the dancers contrasts with and reinforces Roland's grief.  The drama of the subject must have inspired Coypel, a playwright himself, for he has painted the scene with remarkable verve, which we only fully appreciate due to the extraordinary condition of the painting itself.  The canvas is unlined and apparently untouched so that all the artist's brushstrokes, both bold and delicate, can be seen with the naked eye.  We admire how he has created the floral decoration on the shepherdess's dress with minute, overlapping strokes, building up the paint on the canvas.  They have real weight and seem to pull on the delicate fabric of the dress.  Coypel's depiction of Roland is a tour de force.  His brilliant armor reflects his surroundings, including the red coat of arms on his shield.  Coypel creates a rhythmic pattern of figures and gestures that winds across the composition from right to left and then back again as he turns our attention to the figures through the arch.  They are so light and delicate that they almost float away.  Roland  shows Coypel at his most rococo and in both composition and handling recalls the grand compositions of Watteau. 

The importance and popularity of Roland and the Marriage of Angélique are evident in the contemporary responses to it.  He exhibited the cartoon in the Salon of 1737 to great acclaim. Roland and the Marriage of Angélique was described as "une des plus riches est des plus ingénieuses composition de M. Charles Coypel" (one of the richest and most ingenious compositions of Mr. Charles Coypel) in Mercure de France, a French literary magazine of the time. In the same year Pierre Louis Surugue the Younger made an engraving after the composition, which was also exhibited at the Salon and enjoyed wide circulation. The unusually large number of tapestries woven from the cartoon also attest to its continuing popularity.  At least nine are recorded, among the earliest and most important of which was woven in 1734 to 1737 at the Gobelins by Le Febvre and Monmerqué and is today in the Swedish Royal Collection, Stockholm.  Another from 1741 to 1750, also woven under the direction Monmerqué, and was given by Louis XV to Duke Paul Grimaldi in 1763 (see fig 1).

1.  137 3/4  by 242 1/4  in.; 305 by 615 cm.   
2.  See T. Lefrançois, Charles Coypel, Paris 1994, pp. 271-272, cat. no. P. 152, reproduced.